Assassin’s Creed meets Zelda in a breezy world of greek myth


Open world roleplaying games are often so dour and heavy, and can take such great liberties with the concept of openness, that it was a genuine shock in 2017 when Nintendo turned its hand to the genre and created the irresistibly untethered Breath of the Wild; which pushed boundaries by removing them almost entirely.

Ubisoft’s Immortals Fenyx Rising takes more than a little inspiration from Link’s free-wheeling adventure, making it one of the first games from a major studio to do so, while blending it all with a playful take on Greek mythology and a generous dose of modern-day Assassin’s Creed. The end result is either a meeker Breath of the Wild with more chatting and gear levelling, or a light-hearted Assassin’s Creed Odyssey with fewer organ perforating sneak attacks.

Immortals Fenyx Rising is more than just a blend of Zelda and Assassin's Creed, though it certainly is that too.

Immortals Fenyx Rising is more than just a blend of Zelda and Assassin’s Creed, though it certainly is that too.

Either way it’s a refreshing design that joyfully mixes open world checklists with Zelda-like puzzles and funny mythical intrigue, plus you can climb anything and leap off to sail to your next objective, which is really all I wanted games to learn from Breath of the Wild in the first place.

Playing as the fully customisable demi-god soldier Fenyx, you find yourself on the Golden Isle as the last line of defence against the titan Typhon, who has escaped imprisonment, turned the mortals to stone, weakened the gods and transformed the land’s greatest heroes into wraiths. Fortunately you amass fabled equipment and abilities at a rapid pace, and are soon more than capable of navigating the island and taking on the gorgons, griffins, cyclops and minotaurs unleashed there. Fenyx packs a sword, axe and bow for a mobile combo-based fighting style Assassin’s Creed fans will recognise, but the techniques you learn along the way are much more rooted in mythology, such as an arrow you can control remotely or the ability to summon Hephaistos’ hammer.

You’re free to go all the way around the huge island almost from the very start, unlocking your map’s visibility and marking points of interest, or you can go methodical and dive deep into any given area. Once you have the gift of gliding thanks to Daidalos’ wings, the only real barrier is your stamina, which dictates how far you can fly or how high you can climb before losing puff.

Dotting the landscape you’ll find underground vaults (where Typhon has hidden treasure behind extremely video-gamey physics puzzles), as well as near-endless challenges and side-quests of varied complexity, materials that can upgrade your health and gear, animals you can tame and ride, and a lot more. Just gliding around looking for trouble can be quite gratifying, but it’s also worthwhile to explore the various sections of the map (and they do differ quite starkly) on foot or horseback as the paths often lead to locations not easily spotted from above.

Immortals' colourful and sparsely textured world reminds of Fortnite, but is filled with ancient greek structures and mythological creatures.

Immortals’ colourful and sparsely textured world reminds of Fortnite, but is filled with ancient greek structures and mythological creatures.

Your first task is to earn the favour of the gods by restoring their essences. Typhon has left them feeling not at all their regular selves (selfish Aphrodite has become a giving tree, wise Athena a petulant child), and Fenyx stands to benefit a lot from helping them. But I spent ten hours getting stuck into lyre challenges in the valley, fighting Cerberus in the grove and getting the wraith of Achilles off my back before I even touched the main quest.

While a lot will be familiar to Breath of the Wild players (including the vaults, which even borrow the concept of hidden secondary treasures that usually turn out to be really cool pieces of gear you might completely miss), the exploration overall isn’t quite as satisfying. Nintendo’s design was extremely restrained, and put a lot of confidence in the player to discover its secrets, while Ubisoft’s is more overt. From any vantage point you can use “far sight” to survey the land and, while you can mark arbitrary points for later exploration as in Breath of the Wild, the game will also fill in icons telling you exactly what’s hidden there, be it a vault or a guarded chest or a navigation challenge.

This removes a lot of wonder from the game, and I tended to fill the map with objectives and methodically check them off rather than go exploring. It also means some interesting wrinkles, like special chests that only appear at night, are far less mysterious than they might have been. Ubisoft also wasn’t quite brave enough to let players challenge the end boss from the very beginning, gating the final battle behind a linear corridoor you unlock via the main quest.

On the other hand this more blatant design also supports the various systems and upgrade mechanisms in Immortals, which is one of the game’s strengths. For example if you want to unlock new attack moves or traversal skills you need to spend Charon coins, which you only get for completing certain challenges. To upgrade your stamina you need lightning from the vaults, to up your health you need ambrosia, and so on. By showing you exactly where each reward is, you get to choose how Fenyx develops, which is a fine tradeoff for losing some of that discovery.


One element that’s bound to be decisive is the frequent bickering voiceover from Prometheus and Zeus, the former acting as narrator and the latter offering comic relief as a petty but all-powerful doofus. Personally I think it works well in placing the brutal and often vulgar figures of Greek mythology into a somewhat softer context, while also explaining them to the unfamiliar.

Zeus’ bored snappishness veers from fourth-wall-breaking insight (when you need to light a brazier to open a door he yells incredulously “who designed that entrance, a circus performer?”) to vain attempts to justify his turning into animals to seduce people. Jokes do get surprisingly racy, but it’s often to good comedic effect. Such as when Prometheus has to explain to Zeus that Aphrodite was born through an act of graphic genital mutilation and not, as his grandmother had told him, when Uranus threw a pearl from a clam back into the sea.

As an adaptation of the Assassin’s Creed RPG style to a breezier, more open and more playful world, Immortals Fenyx Rising is a total success. It might come off second best to Breath of the Wild, and its chatty and light-hearted take on subject matter traditionally treated in games as dark and bloody might not be to everyone’s taste, but the treatment of greek myth’s gods and monsters here makes for a delightful experience in its own right.

Immortals Fenyx Rising is out now for Xbox Series X/S (reviewed), PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch and Xbox One.

Most Viewed in Technology


Related posts

AB 5 disrupted the gig economy in California. What comes next for Uber drivers?

News Editor

Becoming a convert to a coloured view to history

News Editor

Arcade escapism meets ’80s coming of age story in 198X

News Editor

Leave a Comment